RFK Jr. won’t qualify for June Trump-Biden presidential debate: report

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will fall short of meeting the ballot access requirements needed to qualify for next week’s debate between President Biden and former President Donald Trump, according to a report.

Kennedy, 70, has long maintained that he would meet all criteria needed to qualify for presidential debates, including having his name on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning the Electoral College vote.

However, the independent candidate is not on the ballot in several states where he has claimed he is, and he won’t meet the threshold needed to qualify for the June 27 CNN debate by the Thursday deadline, a Washington Post survey of state election officials found.

politics, us news, 2024 presidential election, debate, donald trump, joe biden, presidential debates, robert f. kennedy jr., rfk jr. won’t qualify for june trump-biden presidential debate: report
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Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks to attendees during a campaign rally at Brazos Hall on May 13, 2024 in Austin, Texas. Getty Images

The Kennedy campaign claims its “aggressive ballot access operation has surpassed all its milestones to ensure” RFK Jr. is on the ballot in all 50 states.

The campaign has said that Kennedy is “officially on the ballot in nine states — Utah, Michigan, California, Delaware, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Texas, South Carolina, and Mississippi” and that it has “collected enough signatures for ballot access in 14 other states” — New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Idaho, Iowa, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Florida, Minnesota, Tennessee, Alaska, Washington, and Nebraska.

But the Washington Post found that only election officials in Utah, Delaware, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee would confirm Kennedy’s claims of officially appearing on November ballots.

CNN has counted California and Hawaii for Kennedy as well, the outlet noted.

That leaves the independent candidate eligible for 100 Electoral College votes — well short of the 270 needed to clinch a win in November.

politics, us news, 2024 presidential election, debate, donald trump, joe biden, presidential debates, robert f. kennedy jr., rfk jr. won’t qualify for june trump-biden presidential debate: report
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Former President Trump gives the keynote address at Turning Point Action’s “The People’s Convention” on June 15, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. Getty Images

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Biden participates in the first presidential debate against then-President Trump at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020, in Cleveland, Ohio. Getty Images

A Kennedy campaign spokesperson told The Post that “the bottom line” is RFK Jr. is eligible for more votes at the moment than either Trump or Biden, since neither of the two presumptive major party candidates have formally been nominated, which will occur at the Republican and Democratic national conventions.

“In regards to Washington Post’s premise that Mr. Kennedy isn’t on enough state ballots to fulfill CNN’s requirement to be on the debate stage on June 27, the bottom line is he is eligible for more electoral votes than both Presidents Trump and Biden since they have not yet been nominated by their parties,” Kennedy campaign press secretary Stefanie Spear said in a statement.

The Kennedy campaign preemptively accused CNN of “violating federal law” if it doesn’t include RFK Jr. in its debate.

politics, us news, 2024 presidential election, debate, donald trump, joe biden, presidential debates, robert f. kennedy jr., rfk jr. won’t qualify for june trump-biden presidential debate: report
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RFK Jr. at a campaign stop in Brooklyn, NY on May 1, 2024. ZUMAPRESS.com

“[The Federal Election Commission] has made clear that the phrase ‘presumptive nominee’ is ‘not in the FEC’s debate regulation.’ Failure to use objective criteria renders the debate a campaign contribution, subject to strict donation limits, therefore CNN is violating federal law,” Spear argued.

Kennedy has also not yet met the polling threshold for the CNN debate, which requires candidates to muster at least 15% support in four national polls.

The independent candidate has garnered 15% support in three polls so far, according to NBC News.

Next week’s debate will be the first of two scheduled showdowns between Biden and Trump.

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